Fort Carson to gain warrior transition unit under restructuring plan

By ERIN PRATER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: January 10, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — This fall, Fort Carson's Warrior Transition Battalion will gain a unit to remotely oversee the care of as many as 100 out-of-state ill and injured soldiers, a Fort Carson official said Thursday.

The addition was announced Thursday by the Pentagon as part of a plan to restructure the Army's warrior transition units — home to ill and injured soldiers who require at least six months of complex medical care — "as the service prepares for a scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and a continued decline in the number of combat wounded," according to a Pentagon news release.

"These changes will improve the care and transition of soldiers through increased standardization, increased cadre to soldier ratios, improved access to resources on installations and reduced delays in care," said Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of Warrior Transition Command and assistant surgeon general for warrior care and transition. "They are not related to budget cuts, sequestration or furloughs."

The Army will establish 13 community-care units at 11 installations, including Fort Carson, by Sept. 30.

These units will replace nine community-based warrior transition units located in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Utah and Virginia.

These units provide "outpatient care and services for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers who do not require day-to-day care, allowing soldiers to continue their recovery closer to home," according to the release.

Responsibility for these soldiers will be divvied up among new community-care units. Fort Carson's new community-care unit, which will fall under the command of the existing Warrior Transition Battalion, will receive charge of up to 100 soldiers, said Roger Meyer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Medical Department Activity at Fort Carson.

Soldiers currently assigned to community-based warrior transition units will continue to see the Tricare health care providers they currently see. Soldiers and case managers will continue to communicate, but that communication will likely happen via phone or email instead of in person, Meyer said.

Each community-care unit will likely employ 27 staffers, though numbers have not been finalized, Meyer said.

The addition of nearly 30 staffers to Fort Carson's Warrior Transition Battalion will help offset the 34 staffers it is slated to lose Oct. 1 because of its declining population, he said.

Though the battalion has the capacity to care for as many as 480 soldiers, it's only currently caring for 177, down 114 from a little over a year ago.

After staff cuts this fall, the battalion will have the capacity to care for 320 local soldiers, plus an additional 100 regional soldiers via its new community-care unit, he said.

Because staff cuts won't occur for nine months, "we have plenty of time to transition or move soldiers whose positions are going away," he said.

The battalion will try to reassign civilians within Fort Carson's Army Medical Department Activity and may assign them to the new community-care unit, he added.

In addition to Fort Carson, community-care units will also be established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Belvoir, Va. Fort Belvoir and Fort Knox will each house two units, according to the Pentagon's release.

The Pentagon also announced Thursday that warrior transition units at Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; and the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., will be inactivated.

Each has fewer than 38 soldiers assigned to it as of last month, according to the release.


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